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AskUs: What is the difference between karate, judo, kung fu, ninjitsu, jiu jitsu, tae kwan do, and aikido?
Check the heater controls and be sure the positions change as well as the temperature and fan speeds.
Don’t always trust them with sayings like “My mechanic said it just needs a sensor that is $30.” Sure that sounds nice but why didn’t they have it fixed if it is a cheap part?
One of the biggest things is DO NOT let them tour you around the car until you have looked it over yourself.
Ask when the timing belt has been replaced (applies to cars with timing belts and not timing chains). Check to see if there were any recalls of the car for that year and model, then when you go see the car, specifically check those areas of the car. Cars even with low miles (40,000) and a worn brake pedal pad usually means that car has seen a lot of city (stop and go) driving which is hard on the transmission.
I have personally seen cars with less than 30,000 miles look great around the outside and inside but be rotted and rusted under them due to sitting for long periods of time or road salt in many northern states. Accelerate hard and brake hard listen for odd noises coming from engine or transmission, and check for pulsing in brakes or pulling one way or the other on the steering wheel.

It is not hard to change a door or hood for another of same color and most people forget to change the lock cylinder. Chipped windows can become cracks sometimes and can be pricy if you don’t have glass coverage. Could be that part along with a ton of labor (lots of $$$$) or could be something worse than that part and they are making it sound better. With the heat on in a non smoker car you shouldn’t smell any smoke (smoke smell is almost impossible to get out of heater vents). They have a replacement interval and could fail if not replaced at or close to this mileage. Not the end all be all tool for car shopping, but it will give you mileage, year, transmission type, engine type, how many owners, accidents, etc before you go to see the car. I went to see a special edition ’05 mustang GT, found out there was a front end suspension recall, they lowered the car in the front dramatically and said it was to give it a more sporty look, but it was clearly to mask the suspension problem. If it is closer or further apart in some areas it usually means the car has been in some accident. Brand new tires is usually a “quick fix” for this and masks the problem for a few thousand miles.

If it is slightly different shades on panels or in the door jams it usually means body work was done and they did not match the color correctly.
Avoid low mile older cars as they tend to be very unreliable due to drive-train seals drying out from lack of use. Look for bubbles in paint or very small holes in body panels (could be “tip of iceberg” for rust and could lead to serious body work shortly down the road).
The fluid should be a nice red color and shouldn’t glimmer like it has glitter in it. If it looks like a milkshake, it could mean the headgasket or oil cooler in radiator has failed. Level should also be to full mark on overflow tank and near the top on radiator (some cars don’t have caps on radiator and only have one on overflow tank.

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